Yale SCHOOL of MANAGEMENT 135 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT 06511

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1 Yale SCHOOL of MANAGEMENT 135 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT Property/Casualty Insurance: A Mixed Bag Property/Casualty Insurance Industry September 13, 2003 Time Frame 12 Months Recommendation SELL Recommendations: Buy: >20% Undervalued Hold: Fair Market Value Sell: >20% Overvalued Team Members: Melissa Bailey-Huang (203) Charles Baker (203) Brian Burke Hirschmann (203) Robert LaChance (617) % Returns Over the Last 12 Months (Prices are as of September 12, 2003) S&P Insurance Index : (8.42)% S&P 500: (3.19)% PLEASE SEE THE DISCLAIMER AT THE BACK OF THIS REPORT FOR IMPORTANT INFORMATION 2003, MELISSA BAILEY-HUANG, CHARLES BAKER, BRIAN BURKE HIRSCHMANN, ROBERT LACHANCE

2 Highlights Improvement in fundamentals doesn t warrant current valuation. Despite a fairly optimistic outlook for industry fundamentals, the industry valuation is too high. We see flat valuation at best, with our most likely case calling for a 20%+ decline should any of the below fundamentals not materialize. Net investment yields, dependent on interest rate recovery, likely to expand over medium term. We forecast a slight recovery in net investment yield to 5.0% in 2003 and 5.5% in 2004, up from 4.3% in 2002, which should be a key driver of improved industry profitability. Net premium growth expected to remain strong at 13% for 2003 and 7% for Currently, many insurers have pushed through rate increases and expect to maintain those increases throughout Costs are coming down, but underwriting still loses money. Combined ratio is projected to fall to 104%, meaning a P&C insurer still loses four cents on every dollar of premium written. Asbestos reserves likely insufficient. Claims pertaining to September 11 th have overshadowed asbestos claims. P&C insurers have been paying out more than they have reserved and need to transfer, by some estimates, an additional 5% of surplus to reserves. Property/Casualty 101 Although it has its own nuances and language, insurance is essentially a financial service industry in the business of spreading risk much like a bank. Insurance companies are in the business of spreading risk between insured parties. In specific, property/casualty insurers spread risks such as automobile liability, home damage or loss, workers compensation, and commercial liability. A successful property/casualty company will collect money called premium - from insureds, invest that money during the term of the coverage contract, and payout claims as incidents arise. The inherent risk of such an insurer is that, due to a risky investment portfolio or poor risk management called underwriting insureds will have insufficient funds to pay claims. Perhaps the most intriguing element of the property/casualty business is that insurers cannot measure costs of goods sold until one, five or even twenty years after they write a policy. Property/casualty (P/C) insurers produce revenue from both written premiums, and investment gains. Written premiums in this industry totaled $406B in Since the industry is not a growth industry, premium revenue tends to be volatile and follows pricing cycles. Producing an operating profit on the underwriting of this largely undifferentiated product is rare. Therefore, net income is highly dependent on investment returns. P/C costs arise from claims and the cost of administering claims. Insurance companies term their payouts losses and the direct expenses associated loss adjustment expense, or LAE. Non loss-related expenses (known as SG&A in other businesses) include items PROPERTY/CASUALTY INDUSTRY ANALYSIS 2

3 such as sales and brokerage commissions, transaction taxes, and overhead. Large unexpected losses and other losses from catastrophic events know as CATs may be covered by a type of insurance for insurers called reinsurance. Industry revenues are evenly divided between consumer insurance called personal lines or PL and commercial insurance called commercial lines or CL. Figure 1 shows the top P&C insurers in the United States. Figure 1. Top 20 U.S. P/C Insurers by Net Written Premium (Net of Reinsurance) ($ in billions) PL carriers, who typically insure autos and homes, include both mutual and public companies. State Farm and Zurich/Farmers are examples of mutuals, while large public insurers include Allstate and Progressive [Figure 2]. PROPERTY/CASUALTY INDUSTRY ANALYSIS 3

4 Figure 2. Top 20 U.S. P/C Personal Lines Insurers ($ in millions) The more fragmented CL business, which offers coverages such as workers compensation, commercial liability, and commercial auto, include companies such as AIG and Travelers as well as mutuals like Zurich/Farmers [Figure 3]. Figure 3. Top 20 U.S. P/C Commercial Lines Insurers ($ in millions) PROPERTY/CASUALTY INDUSTRY ANALYSIS 4

5 Both PL and CL products are sold through direct sales agents as well as insurance brokers such as Marsh McLennan and Aon. The environment for P/C insurance is highly regulated by state governments. While insurance companies have the benefit of guaranteed demand through state mandated coverages such as auto liability and workers compensation, they also fall into the restrictive price controls imposed by the same government entities. While the federal government provides a kind of reinsurance for catastrophes, such as acts of terrorism and floods, it is generally unrelated in typical insurance transactions. The operating health of companies in the industry is gauged by a few key ratios (ratios as percent of earned premium): loss/lae ratio, expense ratio and combined ratio. Loss/LAE ratios are a function of claim frequency and severity and are employed to track the quality of insurer underwriting, and new claim trends (such as asbestos or mold). Expense ratios monitor the overall efficiency of operations and ongoing capital expenditures therein. The all-important combined ratio is the sum of the prior two ratios and is used as the primary measure of business health. A combined ratio of 108, for instance, would reveal that the company spends $1.08 for every $1.00 it writes in premium. Over the last 20 years, the average public P/C insurer has an operating profile described by the following equation: 80 (Loss/LAE) + 28 (Expense) = 108 (Combined). Finally, it is of note to remark that the P/C industry frequently refers to an environment of high combined ratios (and conversely low operating profits), to be a "soft" market, and an environment of low combined ratios to be "hard." The Business and its Drivers - Interest Rates and Operations Revenue Premiums vs. Investments: The chicken and the egg Property/Casualty insurance companies obtain revenue both from the premiums they collect, and from the market returns gained by investing capital. Other sources of revenue, such as billing fee income, are treated as a function of premium revenue for this analysis. Since competition is so fierce, and the product so commodity-like, premium revenues rarely produce excess operating profits. Therefore, shareholder returns depend highly on revenue from marketable securities in company investment portfolios. Long term, however, an insurance company must maintain premium volume to stay solvent. Premiums feed the investment portfolio, and the investment portfolio insures a net profit. Investment Revenue Generating profits at Most P/C firms. Investment income consists of interest and dividend income produced by the insurance company s investment portfolio. Typically, a company will invest its own capital and the portion of underwriting premiums collected but not needed to pay expenses. The majority of a firm s investment portfolio is invested in low-risk securities, such as bonds, with the balance invested in stocks, cash/short-term investments, preferred stocks, and alternative assets, such as real estate[figure 4]. PROPERTY/CASUALTY INDUSTRY ANALYSIS 5

6 Figure 4. U.S. P&C Industry Asset Investment Allocation Cash & ST investments 8% Preferred Stock 1% Common Stock 13% Affiliated Bonds & Stocks 5% Other 6% Bonds 67% Source: A.M. Best Aggregates and Averages. Realized gains or losses resulting from the sale of securities, often volatile from quarter to quarter, are recorded as a separate line item on the income statement. Since many insurers consistently generate a loss from underwriting operations (see Costs section below for discussion of combined ratio ), the income generated from investments is crucial to an insurance companies profitability. Figure 5. U.S. P/C Operating Income PROPERTY/CASUALTY INDUSTRY ANALYSIS 6

7 The current interest rate environment is most often the key driver behind investment income levels, given the concentration of bonds in a typical insurer s portfolio [Figure 6]. Figure 6. Real Net Investment Income for vs. Real Interest 10.0% 8.0% 6.0% 4.0% 2.0% 0.0% -2.0% % -6.0% Real Interest Rate Real Net Investment Yield -8.0% Source: AM Best and U.S. DOC With interest rates at twenty year historical lows, portfolio net investment yields, defined as net investment income divided by average invested assets, have also suffered. For the year ended 2002, investment yield was at 4.3%, down from 5.3% in 2000 and 4.9% in A recovery in net investment yield is tied directly to the interest rate environment. Given interest rates are at historical lows, we feel comfortable forecasting an increase at some point, but the exact timing is a more difficult issue. We assume a modest increase will occur through the end of 2003, followed by a sharper rise in 2004, which drives investment yields to 5.0% in 2003 and 5.5% in Premium Revenue Prices and revenue slowly trending up As firms recoup from the soft market of 2001, prices continue to rise and beat inflation. Mechanisms such as tighter underwriting and state regulatory allowances let products like auto insurance, which accounts for 60% of all P/C premium dollars, take significant rate increases [Figure 7]. Figure 7. U.S. Automotive Insurance Premium Price Change vs. Inflation 10% 8% 6% 4% Auto CPI U.S. CPI 2% 0% E -2% Source: Dowling & Partners PROPERTY/CASUALTY INDUSTRY ANALYSIS 7

8 Regardless of whether it is caused by increased demand or contracting supply, the last 30 years provide evidence that soft markets result in 10-50% premium growth over the following 2-3 years [Figure 8]. If the soft market of 2001 follows the trend, the property casualty industry should expect at least 13% growth (10% real growth net of inflation) in Net Written Premium over Figure 8. U.S. P/C Insurance Industry: Net Written Premiums and Growth $450,000 $400,000 $350,000 $300,000 $250,000 $200,000 $150,000 $100,000 $50,000 $- Soft Market Peak E 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0% Source: A.M. Best's Aggregates and Averages Net Written Premiums (MM) % Growth in NWP Demand Stable Growth Continues Although premium revenue is not the dominant driver of net income for property/casualty firms, it is the all-important top line for the statutory measure of operating revenue, which is watched closely in the sector. Premium revenues are cyclical, but have shown modest growth averaging 3% a year over the last 30 years. 1 Government regulations requiring automobile and workers compensation coverage insure a steady demand for insurance products in the foreseeable future. This stable demand is positively supplemented by changing risk profiles in the public and adjacent introduction of new insurance products and coverages such as terrorism insurance, mortgage guaranty insurance, and insurance for company executives. The industry demand/supply imbalance had led to both an increase in the number of premiums written and an increase in the price for these premiums. Premium Revenue Both personal and commercial line insurers reported continued written premium growth in the first quarter of For example, Allstate Corp. reported a 3.9% rise in net written premiums in the first-quarter 2003 and Chubb Corp. reported a 22% rise in net written premiums. 2 It is believed that increased demand has recently been driven by the change in customer s risk profile and the weakened economic environment. Change in Customer Risk Profile 1 A.M. Best Aggregates and Averages. 2 Standard & Poor s, Industry Surveys Insurance: Property & Casualty, July 17, PROPERTY/CASUALTY INDUSTRY ANALYSIS 8

9 With today s global political instability, cyber-terrorism and the scandals we ve seen at companies like Enron and Worldcom, customer s are becoming more risk averse, and demanding greater insurance coverage. Political Instability: In response to the 9/11 attacks and the ongoing threat of terrorist activity, there has reportedly been an increase in the demand for coverage of terrorist related risks by small and medium-sized U.S. companies. According to a report from Reuters News Agency in April, there was a five-fold increase in inquiries about terrorist coverage since the beginning of the Iraq war. 3 Cyber-terrorism: The demand for cyber-risk policies is growing, as cyber-terrorism might be the next weapon used against the United States by its enemies. 4 The insurance industry has developed cyber insurance products to help businesses meet the growing number of network security risks, including shutdown of a network, destroying vital data or stealing customer information. According to the Insurance Information Institute, policies written for cyber insurance are likely to reach $2 to $3 billion within the next four to five years as companies recognize existing gaps in their coverage. In addition, recent legislation effective this year, such as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLB), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and California s Security Breach Information Act (SB 1386), are also expected to greatly increase possible liabilities in this area, thus increasing the demand for cyber-risk insurance coverage. 5. Scandals: Lloyd's has released the results of a survey, which shows that the demand for specialist insurance cover is expected to rise, with 85% of brokers anticipating a significant increase in demand for professional liability insurance over the next two years 6. This includes primarily Directors & Officers (D&O) liability insurance which protects a corporation against certain kinds of wrongdoings by its corporate officers and directors. Due to the well-known corporate governance scandals that have affected the business community in recent months, premium rates for D&O liability have risen dramatically. Chubb Corp., reported that D&O policies for publicly traded companies were up 125% year over year. For example, Tyco International Ltd. recently paid Chubb Corp. $92 million in premiums to reinstate its D&O coverage 7. The hard D&O market has brought on the greatest rise in prices for premiums since the mid 1980s. In 2002, purchasers of D&O insurance faced premium increases that averaged more than 29%. 8 3 Insurance Journal, April 7, BestWeek, November 12th, 2001 Issue. 5 Insurance Industry Institute (III) 6 Insurance Journal, June 23, Standard & Poor s, July 17, Best s Review, July PROPERTY/CASUALTY INDUSTRY ANALYSIS 9

10 Figure 9. D&O Premium Index for U.S. For-Profit Companies Survey Year Source: Tillinghast-Towers Perrin 2002 Directors & Officers Survey Uncertain Economic Environment Boosts Demand for Insurance Amid a weakened economic environment where 40-year low interest rates have dominated that past year, we have seen an increase in financing both housing and automobiles, which in turn have demanded greater homeownership and automobile insurance. Homeownership Growth: The actual year-to-date new home sales are up 14% this year. 9 Figure 10. New Home Sales, Single Family (in 000s) Strong performance was driven not just by low interest rates, but by stock market uncertainties leading people to put money into the housing market. 10 In addition, last year s decline in mortgage rates led to about 40 percent of all outstanding single family mortgages originating in Mortgage companies most often require their clients 9 Wachovia Securities, Housing Statistics, Reuters, July 30, Homeownership Alliance, January 16, PROPERTY/CASUALTY INDUSTRY ANALYSIS 10

11 purchase homeowners insurance. Thus, an attractive financing environment has led to an increased demand for homeowner s insurance. Furthermore, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III) rapidly rising construction costs prices, home remodeling and increasingly expensive natural disasters are expected to push the cost of homeowners insurance up by 8 percent in The projected increase represents a modest change from the estimated 7 percent increase in The average cost for home insurance nationwide for 2004 is projected to be $615 - an increase of $46 for the average homeowner over this year. Figure 11. Average Consumer Expenditures on Homeowners Insurance * III estimates based on U.S. Bureau of Labor CPI data, company filings and trend projections. Sources: National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Insurance Information Institute. Car Ownership Growth: In a low interest rate regime, financing costs of vehicles has reduced dramatically. This has increased demand for automobiles. This year, we saw one of the best years ever for auto sales. As the US economy recovers which means more jobs and rising incomes automotive demand could remain at strong levels. In addition, today, we are seeing more and more three car families. Since auto insurance is mandatory for all states, the growth in car ownership is directly correlated to the demand for auto insurance. The average cost of auto insurance climbed by about 8.4 percent in 2002 and is expected climb about 9 percent in The average amount rewarded for each auto insurance claim rose significantly in 2000 but the rate of increase has reduced since then. There is generally a time gap between an increase in claims costs and an increase in premium rates as companies review the data and file requests for rate increases with state insurance departments. In 2001, rates still lagged behind costs Insurance Information Institute. PROPERTY/CASUALTY INDUSTRY ANALYSIS 11

12 Figure 12. Average Consumer Expenditures on Auto Insurance * III estimates based on U.S. Bureau of Labor CPI data, company filings and trend projections. Sources: National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Insurance Information Institute. Supply Contracting environment directs business to stock insurers. Since demand is relatively predictable, the cyclical nature of premium growth is chiefly due to price competition. The supply and therefore price of insurance products ebbs and flows with so-called soft and hard underwriting cycles. As with most cyclic industries, insurance pricing cycles are a product of competitors lowering price to gain market share, and subsequently raising prices to meet increasing variable costs. The variable cost problem may be amplified in the insurance industry when insurers loosen their underwriting while simultaneously lowering prices. This naturally will produce terrible operating losses, once the poor underwriting is revealed in the form of future losses. Other competitive factors on the supply side of the business will continue to drive premium revenues upward in the near term. These factors include the environment for new entrants, participation of non-stock insurers, and the risk capital environment. New Entrants Challenging Environment for New Firms. The environment for new entrants in the property/casualty industry was more favorable in the soft-market of the 90s than the hard-market of today. In the past, high investment returns, a favorable regulatory environment (namely 2-to-1 leverage requirements), and relatively easy access to capital allowed new entrants to sell commodity products in the commercial market. Moreover, newcomers to property/casualty whether startups or established financial services firms lacked heavy liabilities, such as asbestos and mold claims, on their balance sheets. Presently however, P/C growth seems to be flat or contracting as investment returns decline and firms both exit and consolidate. The last six months alone have produced evidence of this, as the market has seen merger activity between such notables as Prudential and Liberty Mutual, and Travelers and Royal Sun Alliance. It is also of note that the casualty environment, post-september 11 th, produced a change in the risk profile of insureds. Catastrophic commercial losses have forced customers to demand excellent insurance PROPERTY/CASUALTY INDUSTRY ANALYSIS 12

13 ratings 13 from their carriers. In this way, established carriers with strong balance sheets and excess surplus (beyond what regulators require) will maintain a competitive advantage over smaller entrants. The most threatening of all entrants are those with significant capital to produce the leverage and security needed to compete in this hostile pricing market. While large financial service conglomerates seem to be the natural candidates for entry into this market, Citigroup s recent divestiture of Travelers P/C provides evidence that this is not easy task. Not only are barriers to entry imposing for P/C newcomers, but so are barriers to exit. Regulatory obligations to insured parties provide that any firm that enters the current market will be locked in for as long as coverage lasts. This barrier alone is enough to repel many potential property/casualty entrants. For commercial insurers, a formidable form of competition from new entrants comes in the form of a type of company self-insurance called captive insurers. Essentially, captives are set up abroad to take advantage of tax rates offshore. Under-capacity and rising rates have recently swayed entities to form captives [Figure 12]. Figure 13. U.S. P/C Insurance Industry: Captive Formations and Liquidations Hard market fueling captive formation Corporate collapses and captive consolidations fueled the upward trend in captive liquidations in Source: AM Best, Tillinghast-Towers Perrin New Captives Liquidated Captives Non-Stock Competition Going nowhere in particular. For publicly held insurers, the most dominant form of direct competition for premium dollars is mutual insurers. State Farm, which is responsible for over 11% of industry written premium, is a perfect example of such mutual threat. Mutual insurers play by different rules than the P/C companies in the stock universe. Indeed, their only job is to provide a product at the lowest possible cost to insureds. In the bull market of the 1990s this was an easy job to do, but the recent recession has forced mutuals to raise prices. In the end, mutual companies are subject to the same cyclical pricing trends as the industry, especially since the market is competitive enough to preclude price leadership. Poor underwriting margins have influenced mutual companies to diversify into other areas of financial service. To date, this has not proven to be a successful strategy for the mutuals. 13 Products rated by firms such as A.M. Best and S&P rate the financial strength of the firm, and its ability to cover future losses. PROPERTY/CASUALTY INDUSTRY ANALYSIS 13

14 While this new focus is likely to distract mutual insurers and drive customers to growthfocused stock companies, the net result is likely to be flat or even adverse for stock companies. The momentum of the sizable mutuals allows them to trudge forward and grow regardless of the market environment. The recent financial weakness of mutual companies has driven a number of them to the securities markets to restore their capital base. The so-called demutualization of notable mutuals such as Prudential (2001), Metropolitan Life (2000), and John Hancock (2000) means that more players are entering the stock P/C game. This added competition may drive prices and premium revenue down for other stock companies as these mutuals apply their massive resources to an underleveraged environment. Risk Capital Favorable borrowing environment but low operating leverage. The availability of inexpensive risk capital is favorable for stock insurers in this market. Risk capital, in the form of both debt and reinsurance, provides property casualty companies with the capital base to write more in insurance premiums. Although reinsurance rates trend up with other P/C prices, the favorable debt environment will provide stock insurers with the surplus they need to gain market share in an environment of contracting supply. The most used form of P/C risk capital comes from operating leverage (see Balance Sheet Risk: Operating Leverage in this report). Although raw industry leverage ratios signal 70% over-capacity with regard to legal underwriting constraints, consolidation and rising prices suggest that this over-capacity is nominal only. Indeed supply seems to be contracting, as it traditionally does in a hard market. Inflation and Interest Rates Finally, it is important to note that premium revenue and the premium prices that drive this revenue are highly dependant on both inflation and interest rates. The influence of inflation is intuitive as the cost of indemnification increases with inflation. As the CPI rises, so must insurance costs if insurers plan to stay in business. The more tricky relationship is that with insurance prices and interest rates. Standard and Poor s describes this relationship in their Property-Casualty Industry Survey: Theoretically, when interest rates rise, insurers are willing to provide more insurance at the same price, because each premium dollar generates more investment income for the insurer. Thus, insurance prices decline until additional demand is stimulated or until it becomes unprofitable to provide coverage, prompting insurers to withdraw. Either way, supply and demand are brought back into balance. [Figure 13] PROPERTY/CASUALTY INDUSTRY ANALYSIS 14

15 Figure 14. U.S. P/C Insurance: Net Written Premium Growth vs. Treasury Bills 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0% The fundamental relationship between insurance pricing and interest rates, therefore, is that prices increase when interest rates fall and decline when interest rates rise. The magnitude of changes in price varies with the magnitude of changes in interest rates. 14 Costs Predictable costs, possible operational advantages, no combined ratios under 104% Costs for P/C insurers comprise of losses, loss-related expenses, and overhead. The drivers for each of the costs are outlined below. Loss Source: A.M. Best's Aggregates and Averages Loss costs for P/C insurers is a function of both the frequency and severity of claims. Losses are primarily a result of underwriting discipline and risk management of the underwriter, however catastrophic events and changes in the trend of claim filings can affect losses in the short and long term. The P/C industry has seen increased losses over the last 60 years [Figure 14]. The loss ratio trend, however, seems to have stabilized safely around 80% of earned premium over the last 20 years. There is no reason to believe that, over the next year, this average trend will drop below 76% in the favorable hard market. It is of note that the cost of indemnification escalates as the CPI of items related to claims increase, however P/C/ rate pricing carefully takes these factors into account so that, on the average, this does not adversely affect losses. Accounting for losses on P/C balance sheets take a practice called reserving into account as well as reinsurance. Simply stated, changes in expectations of future losses will incite insurers to put more money aside for claims. Both reserving and reinsurance 10 Year Treasury Yield % Growth in NWP 14 Standard & Poor s Industry Surveys, Insurance: Property-Casualty, pg 22, 7,17,2003. PROPERTY/CASUALTY INDUSTRY ANALYSIS 15

16 planning can affect loss ratios since poor reserving and inappropriate reinsurance will result in higher losses going forward. Loss expectations caused by claim epidemics, such as asbestos or house mold, that were unforeseen would also cause present losses to escalate (see Balance Sheet Risks for more detail on the asbestos issue and reserving). Loss Expense Loss expenses, or LAE are those variable expenses directly related to losses. Costs such as claim service and estimation are part of LAE. Since LAE are related to losses, the two are frequently analyzed together as Loss/LAE. For ratio analysis, Loss/LAE are analyzed as a percent of earned premium [Figure 15]. Operational efficiencies, such as claims filing automation, may cut claims costs in the future, but large-scale change in LAE is not likely over the next twelve months. Other Costs Other costs for P/C insures include what most businesses term Sales, General, and Administrative (SG&A). Insurance companies usually term these costs underwriting expenses. Underwriting expenses have decreased over the last 60 years, as operational efficiencies cut costs for large insurers. Underwriting expenses have hovered around 28% of earned premium since the 1970s, when computing was employed en mass. No foreseeable advancements that will reduce these costs industry-wide are expected. These costs should remain flat at around 28% for the next 12 months. Figure 15. U.S. P/C Insurance: Loss/LAE and Expense Expense Ratio Loss Ratio Source: A.M. Best's Aggregates and Averages PROPERTY/CASUALTY INDUSTRY ANALYSIS 16

17 Combined Ratio Summing Loss/LAE and underwriting expense ratios results in the prime industry operating metric for P/C: the combined ratio. Combined ratios have trended up as operating income has decreased over the history of public insurers. 10 and 20 year moving averages show that operating margins have steadily shrunk since the 1960s [Figure 16]. Although Q2 data from insurance companies show combined ratios dropping below 100, fundamentally and historically there is no reason to believe that ratios will drop below 102. Our analysis conservatively projects that combined ratios will drop to 104 producing a 4% operating loss over the next 12 months. Figure 16. U.S. P/C Insurance: Historical Combined Ratios and Operating Margins Source: A.M. Best's Aggregates and Averages Combined Ratio 10yr Moving Avg. 20yr Moving Avg. Hist. Moving Avg Operating Profit 10yr Moving Avg. 20yr Moving Avg. Hist. Moving Avg. PROPERTY/CASUALTY INDUSTRY ANALYSIS 17

18 Balance Sheet Risk Assessing balance sheet risks is critical to valuing a P&C insurance company. We analyze the industry s risk in six areas: Non-asbestos reserves Financial leverage Asbestos Reinsurance recoverables Operating leverage Goodwill Risks due to non-asbestos reserves, leverage, reinsurance and goodwill are limited and do not impact valuation significantly. However, asbestos risk is high and as a result the sector should trade below its historical multiples. Non-asbestos reserves results are classified by the year in which they were written. For instance, the losses from premiums underwritten in 2002 are shown in accident year 2002 results. These reserves include reserves for lines such as earthquake, mold and auto insurance. Reserves for 2002 premiums for these lines have been extremely high which means that companies are being conservative and will probably be able to favorably revise their 2002 combined ratio in the future. But the profitability of business written from 1998 to 2001 has been poor and the industry has had to revise reserves for those years by billions of dollars. The profitability of this business may remain a problem and may cause continued negative revisions to the industry s combined ratio. All in all, reserve levels are decent and should have no major impact on the industry s multiples. Financial leverage (defined as debt plus preferred divided by total capital) for the industry 15 is 26.2% excluding goodwill, which is a significant increase over last year. 16 As underwriting and investing conditions improve and in the absence of another largescale catastrophe such as September 11 th, financial leverage should decline. Debt levels at St. Paul are disconcerting at 47% but most companies are less levered. This leverage is not necessarily a bad thing. Those companies with higher debt levels will have better returns on equity if the sector does well but will struggle if losses are higher than expected. Due to increased leverage, insurance stocks now offer more equity upside at the price of greater downside risk. Insurance stocks are now riskier but this does not change our industry valuation. 15 We use the Deutsche Bank P&C index as a proxy for the industry throughout the Balance Sheet Risks section. 16 Deutsche Bank Securities. PROPERTY/CASUALTY INDUSTRY ANALYSIS 18

19 Figure 17. Financial Leverage for 21 P/C Securities 17 Asbestos claims have been increasing in severity and frequency in the past few years. According to the American Insurance Association, if the events of September 11, 2001 had not occurred asbestos issues would be the country s most important political issue. Some industry experts have estimated that the ultimate liability for asbestos-related losses could be $200 billion, with the domestic P&C firms paying $60 billion of that total. Many unions and lawyers are advising workers who may have contact with the substance but have not developed an illness to file claims now while funds are still available. 18 Insurers establish loss reserves to recognize expected losses that are not yet paid. Deutsche Bank estimates that each company needs to quadruple its 2000 asbestos loss reserves, and a number of companies have consequently taken large charges. But the average company still needs to transfer 5% of its net tangible equity to reserves in order to quadruple its 2000 reserve levels. From 1996 to 2001, insurers paid out more than they reserved for asbestos loss and loss adjustment expenses. Consequently industry reserves for asbestos losses declined from $28.2 to $ This combined with increased claims leads us to believe that most companies have insufficient asbestos reserves. Consequently P&C stocks should trade at a discount to their historical multiples. 17 Deutsche Bank Securities. 18 Standard & Poor s, July 17, Standard & Poor s, July 17, PROPERTY/CASUALTY INDUSTRY ANALYSIS 19

20 Figure 18. Asbestos Reserves to Equity. 20 Reinsurance recoverables are the amount of losses the insurance company expects to recover from its reinsurers and are shown as an asset on its balance sheet. This exposes the insurance company to the credit risk of its reinsurers and unrecovered portions can have a substantial negative impact. The average reinsurance recoverables to shareholders equity ratio was 61.4% excluding goodwill and six companies have ratios of greater than 100%. 21 Again Ace Limited is the most risky with a 425% ratio, but several firms have no little or no reinsurance. Overall reinsurance risk is acceptable and reinsurance should continue to allow insurance companies to reduce earnings volatility. Operating leverage is net premiums plus net reserves divided by surplus. Surplus is approximated by tangible equity plus debt plus preferred. While high operating leverage may suggest that a company is using its capital aggressively in order to earn higher returns on equity, it can also be a problem. If leverage is already extremely high, a company may not be able to take advantage of new business opportunities without first raising additional funds. If claims are unexpectedly high, a highly-levered company will be more likely to be downgraded. An insurer s credit rating has a major impact on premium prices it can charge and its ability to retain customers; thus downgrades can be very detrimental. Large investment losses combined with an increase in written premiums led to an increase in operating leverage in The ratio of net written premiums to policyholder surplus for 2002 for the industry was 1.29 compared with 1.23 for Regulators allow insurers to write up to $2 premiums for each $1 of surplus. 20 Deutsche Bank Securities. 21 Deutsche Bank Securities. 22 Standard & Poors, July 17, PROPERTY/CASUALTY INDUSTRY ANALYSIS 20

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